Eagles Come Up Big In The Clutch
By Zachary Best
The Eagles left San Fransisco victorious, in what was a very big game against the 49ers. After digging themselves into a small hole, The Eagles needed a win to stay in the NFC East race. Down 9 points in the 4th quarter, the team suddenly felt the urgency of the situation, and rose up to the occasion. They were able to score 23 points in the final quarter, for a nice win before the bye week.
McNabb Is On His Game: Donovan has been playing really well this year, and he looks very different than he did last year. His arm is just as strong as ever, his throws are accurate, and he is reading defenses well. Number Five is proving all of his doubters haters wrong. He is far from being done, and actually looks to be better than ever.
This is not the Donovan of 2001, who constantly used his legs as a weapon. This version of McNabb is a pure pocket QB who delivers strikes all across the football field. He spreads the ball around so well, and gets everybody involved. I have heard so many Iggles fans who want to just get rid of Five, and I don’t get it. He is too good of a QB to let go of right now. Kevin Kolb is just going to have to wait longer.
General Buckhalter: Correll Buckhalter has to be one of the best stories in the NFL. Here is a guy who has dealt with 3 devastating knee injuries that put him on the shelf. Each time he would rehab, and work so hard to come back, only to end up dealing with another knee injury. Most running backs career would be over, but not Buck. He just kept on fighting, and the Eagles kept him around for all these years.
It is finally starting to pay off in a big way for the Birds. With Brian Westbrook unable to go, Correll steps in and plays great. He gets 18 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown, and catches 7 passes for 85 yards. Andy Reid featured him just the same way they feature Brian Westbrook, and didn’t change anything.
I always like to pull for the “underdog”, and Correll is a great person to admire. It takes heart and dedication to go through what he did, and come back to play.
Disaster Before The Half: A strange trend has been going on with the Birds. They have given up points to the opposing team in 4 straight games just before half time.
The Skins kicked a 50 yard field goal with 2 seconds left. After a David Akers missed field goal, the Bears managed to throw a touchdown to Devin Hester with a little over a minuted to go. With 13 seconds left before halftime against the Steelers, Jeff Reed nailed a 53 yard field goal. Nick Folk of the Cowboys hit a 51 yard field goal with 3 seconds left in the half.
This trend continued against the 49ers in probably the worst way imaginable. Andy Reid elected to have David Akers try a 54 yard field goal with only 2 seconds left in the half. The 49ers were able to block the kick, and former Eagles Donald Strickland scooped up the ball and took it 41 yards for a touchdown.
The first thing I want to know, is why would Reid send out Akers for a 54 yard field goal, when he has missed 9 straight kicks beyond 40 yards. You know that Akers has not shot of actually making the kick, and trying it could only lead to something bad happening.
The Eagles had a decent 17-9 lead going into halftime, and this play just sucked the life out of the Eagles, and gave it to the 49ers. This play seemed to spark the Niners offense in the 3rd quarter too. It was a huge momentum swing.
If the Eagles had lost this game, Andy Reid would be getting killed for putting Akers out there.
THE FADE!: One thing Reid actually did right was call for a fade pass in the red zone. The best part is it worked. It was 3rd-and-goal from the 2, and Donovan just lobbed it up high to WR Hank Baskett. The 6’4″ Champion high jumper skyed over the 5′ 11″ CB Walt Harris, and hauled in the pass for a score. Baskett did a nice job of securing the football, and getting both feet inbounds.
It was so great to see the fade, and I hope the team continues to try this in the future. It is just a great play to run at the goal line. You just need the right player to run this play, and the Eagles have the perfect player to do this with Baskett. When you have one-on-ones near the end zone, just throw it up, and let the play makers make the plays.
Defense Made Plays Down The Stretch: The Eagles were marching down the field later in the 3rd quarter, and had the ball at the 49ers 15 yard line. Then McNabb’s pass was intercepted by former Eagle Takeo Spikes. The team was down 9 points, and had just blown a golden opportunity for points. A 49ers score, could have put the game out of reach.
That is when the Eagles defense decided they had enough. On first-and-ten they stuffed Frank Gore at the line for no gain. On 2nd-and-10 J.T. O’Sullivan was being pressured by Juqua Parker, and his pass was knocked down by Asante Samuel. Then on 3rd-and-10 Juqua Parker sacked O’Sullivan with good pressure also coming from Trent Cole. This was the first 3-and-out the Eagles defense had had all game, and it set the tone for the rest of the game.
The 49ers next possession was also a 3-and-out. After two incomplete passes, the 49ers tried another tight end screen to Vernon Davis, but this time the Eagles were ready for it, and stopped the play for a 7 yard loss.
The next time San Fran had the ball the Eagles defense made more big plays. On 2nd-and-8 the 49ers ran what appeared to be a double reverse, but DE Juqua Parker was never fooled. He alertly stayed home, and then ran down Delanie Walker for a ten yard loss. With a 3-and-18 the Eagles sent 8 guys back in pass coverage, and Quintin Mikell was able to come up with a huge interception.
The Niners were now down four points, and needed a touchdown to win. On a 3rd-and-3 Trent Cole flew up field, and swatted the ball away from J.T. O’Sullivan. Chris Clemons recovered, and the Eagles got their 2nd turnover of the game.
Down 7 points in the final minute of the game, the 49ers needed to drive the length of the field and score to tie the game. They got one big play for 25 yards to rookie WR Josh Morgan. Then Juqua Parker put the nail in the coffin, by intercepting J.T. O’Sullivan and returned it 55 yard to the house. On the play the Eagles showed blitz up the middle, but instead everybody dropped back into coverage, including Parker who was standing up in the Joker position. Parker read the play, and undercut the throw for a tremendous interception. Veteran WR Isaac Bruce was not even expecting the pass, as he was running down field turned the other way.
"“During the course of the game, he [O’Sullivan] did that play before when he thought we were blitzing,” Parker said. “At that point, I was dropping out and I heard him talking to that receiver and I just figured he was going to throw to him. He thought we were going to blitz up the middle, so what I did is I popped out quick and he threw the ball and I was just happy to be there.”"
It was a great game for Juqua, and the rest of the defense stepped up big when they needed to.
This And That:
- I was glad to see that DeSean Jackson was involved more in the offense. He had a great game with 6 catches for 98 yards.
- L.J. Smith is killing this team. His sloppy route is what resulted in the McNabb interception. He has to be in front of Takeo Spikes, and not give up position like that. It doesn’t help that he is a crappy blocker, and drops passes. I know he caught a TD in this game, but a 2 yard catch does not make up for the multiple bad plays he has.
- Dropped passes still seem to be an issue. I don’t have the exact count, but I can remember at least 3 drops in this game. This is really getting out of hand.
- Frank Gore had a good game. The Eagles rush defense looked really bad on some plays. The 49ers were able to drive the Eagles defensive lineman back, and Gore just ran through the holes.
- The Eagles screen game was great. The Eagles are “the best screen team in the NFL” according to John Madden, but they have not shown it this year. Against the 49ers they were able to put things together, and have some very effective screens to Buckhalter.
- The Redskins lost to the struggling St. Louis Rams. Turnovers killed the Skins, and Josh Brown had a very clutch kick.
- The Cowboys also lost to the Arizona Cardinals. Former Eagles Sean Morey came untouched, and blocked a punt which was picked up by Monty Beisel and taken into the end zone for a game winning touch down in overtime.
- If the Cleveland Browns can some how manage to beat the Giants, then the Eagles are right back in the division race.